MOVING FORWARD - Red Deer Hospice Society stakeholders and supporters heard about expansion plans for the facility that will soon be underway, and the start of a fundraising campaign to cover costs for the project. It’s expected to be complete by the fall of 2019. Mark Weber/Red Deer Express

WATCH: Red Deer Hospice Society launches fundraising campaign for expansion

The Hospice, which opened in 2005, will expand by 15,000 sq. ft.

Red Deer Hospice is bolstering its facility size to help more residents and their families navigate the end-of-life journey with dignity, compassion and care.

Organizers launched the Expansion Fundraising Campaign June 8th at the Hospice, which is located at 99 Arnot Ave.

“With occupancy rates at the 90 per cent rate, we do not want to be faced with having to turn away someone or families for care,” said Wendi Ronspies, president of the Red Deer Hospice Society.

“An expansion to our existing home will allow us to better meet the needs of Central Alberta.”

She said the plans include a new main floor that will have six additional private residential rooms, enhanced areas including living rooms, quiet areas, a coffee bar, a dedicated sanctuary and a multi-purpose room for education, care and day programming.

More multi-purpose rooms and offices will be on the second floor. Altogether, the site will be expanded by 15,000 sq. ft.

With construction starting right away, stakeholders have launched a fundraising campaign with a goal of $5.2 million to support capital, fundraising and operation costs.

Upon opening, Alberta Health Services has committed to hiking annual funding from $838,000 to $2.8 million.

“As we look back over the past 12 years, we have come so far,” said Ronspies. “We can only imagine where the next 12 years will take us,” she said, adding the plan is to have the expansions complete by the fall of 2019.

The expansion will also ultimately allow for 100 additional residents and their families to have access to palliative and end-of-life care each year.

Red Deer Hospice opened for its first resident in 2005. Since then, staff have cared for more than 1,200 residents and their family members.

“We are expanding by 15,000 square feet,” said Val Hilario, executive director. Hilario will be taking on the role of expansion campaign coordinator shortly. “We want to make this available to everyone,” she said of the services provided at the Hospice.

Helping to get things off to a brisk start, the Twilight Homes Foundation is providing $300,000 in funding, broken down to $100,000 annually for the next three years.

“They helped us get our initial campaign going, so when we approached them of course they came right on board,” said Hilario. “That means a lot to us.”

Red Deer Hospice is one of three stand-alone hospices in the province. As a not for profit society, a majority of its operating budget is brought in through events, fundraising and donations.

Board member Bryan Wilson said staff and supporters always had it in their minds that there would one day be an expansion.

“Today is a culmination of those thoughts, those dreams and those ideas,” he said. “Really, it’s an extension of the original dream which is to provide compassionate, palliative care in a stand-alone residence.

“That’s what we do.”

For more information about the fundraising campaign, check out www.reddeerhospice.com or call 403-309-4344.

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